Rabbi's Blog

Rabbi Mendel's Blog

Rabbi Mendel's blog features his Dvar Torah (Torah lesson) column from the weekly E-TORAH, ocassional musings and other articles that he authors from time to time.
Your comments are welcome.

A Relationship, Not Just a Religion

“Rabbi, if I hate paying taxes, should I do it anyway? I always have a barbecue on July 4 and we have an awesome fireworks display. My family gets together on Thanksgiving and a huge American flag hangs on our front porch. We donate to various veterans organizations and I understand the importance of American democracy and culture. But I think the government wastes too much money and I don’t feel like paying taxes. In fact, I’m willing to give more to charitable causes rather than pay Uncle Sam.”

When I get questions like this, I often try to put things in context. Let’s forget a moment about legalities and moral obligations. Let us put aside the virtues and vices of current American government and politics.

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How Did He Do It?

Many social scientists, historians and religious scholars have debated the personality of the Rebbe.  How could a Soviet refugee, schooled as an electric engineer in Germany and France, take the helm of a tiny group of Chassidic survivors and transform it into the most vibrant and fastest-growing movement in the Jewish world? What was it about the Rebbe that attracted Jews and non-Jews from all walks of life? What did Ariel Sharon, David Dinkins, Robert Kennedy and Joe Lieberman – along with the countless nameless Jews and gentiles – all see in the Rebbe that moved them to consult with him?

Some argue it was the Rebbe’s charisma. The Rebbe had a way about him that simply drew people in. Almost everyone who met the Re… Read More »

First-overs, Not Leftovers

A little boy wanted $100 so badly that he prayed for two weeks, but nothing happened. He decided to write a letter to the Almighty requesting the $100. When the postal authorities received the letter addressed to "G-d" they decided to send it to the President of the USA.

President Obama was so impressed and touched that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a $5 bill. Mr. Obama thought this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy.

The little boy was delighted with the $5 and sat down to write a thank-you note to G-d, which read:

"Dear G-d,

"Thank you very much for sending me the money. It's just a pity you had to send it through Washington, D.C. and, as usual, those idiots deducted $95."

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On Your Own?

Our daughter Shaina will be 22 months tomorrow.  For the first time, she will join us for the 2-mile round-trip trek to Shul on Shabbat.  Thank G-d she is a good walker, but we still don’t know how she will fare. We will be sure to hold her hand and guide her along. But – because it is Shabbat – we cannot carry her. She will have to walk on her own two feet. But we will always be right there.

When children are young we are eager to offer them support and guide them along. But as they mature, we need to slowly let go. We must allow them to discover the world – and themselves – on their own. By pulling back, we are helping them become better people.


In this week’s parsha Behaalotecha, the J… Read More »

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